Just gotta have more cowbell

This is one of those things that I should know, but don’t. Any readers able to help?

For our non-boating friends, in Americanada when you are in “the open” and you want to enter “a harbor” (fuzzy concepts that get very confusing when you have two harbors connected by a channel) you keep the red buoys on your right side and the green buoys on your left side to avoid any crunchy bits touching your boat. This buoy coloring fact spawned the mnemonics “red right returning” and “red left leaving”. Major buoys in the ocean often also have lights that flash in certain patterns so they can be identified, loud sounds and have stuff built in so that they show up as larger-than-they-are blips on your radar screen – all so that mariners can find their way to safe harbors in the dark and in the fog.

To my question for the boaters: It seems to me like the red buoys out here on the W Coast moo and the green buoys clang like a cowbell. Is it just the case that some buoys have bells and some have horns and randomly I’ve been seeing red ones with horns and green ones with cowbells or is this a planned fact that you can use to guide yourself into the harbor in the fog?


  1. Whistle Buoys and Bell Buoys are not specific to the color of the buoy. I am not sure why some are whistle and some bell except that if there are two in proximity you can tell them apart. The placement of each type may be related to the typical weather and surf conditions in the area so that you can hear it more distinctly.

    It's not Red Right Returning... it's red right with the FLOOD tide. There are many places on the coast where RRR will leave you having a close encounter with the "crunchy bits"!!!

    Lance & Carol

  2. I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!

  3. Besides the bell and whistle buoys there are also gong buoys. I don't think that there is any placement rules other than not having two of the same kind near each other for the obvious reason.

  4. If you need/want to learn more about safe boating, and that includes bells & whistles, buoys and nuns, then you should consider some courses with www.usps.org/seattle and check out some of the links regarding upcoming classes!

    It will be fun!

  5. Thanks everyone. The tip on RRFlooding was great and Rowan gets the SNL award.
    @Anonymous - Courses are always good but I think we'll muddle along from here without more for now :)



Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner